• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Article

Online versus offline: the Web as a medium for response time data collection

Behavior Research Methods. 2016. Vol. 3. No. 48. P. 1086-1099.
Chetverikov A., Upravitelev Philipp.

The Internet provides a convenient environment for data collection in psychology. Modern Web programming languages, such as JavaScript or Flash (ActionScript), facilitate complex experiments without the necessity of experimenter presence. Yet there is always a question of how much noise is added due to the differences between the setups used by participants and whether it is compensated for by increased ecological validity and larger sample sizes. This is especially a problem for experiments that measure response times (RTs), because they are more sensitive (and hence more susceptible to noise) than, for example, choices per se. We used a simple visual search task with different set sizes to compare laboratory performance with Web performance. The results suggest that although the locations (means) of RT distributions are different, other distribution parameters are not. Furthermore, the effect of experiment setting does not depend on set size, suggesting that task difficulty is not important in the choice of a data collection method. We also collected an additional online sample to investigate the effects of hardware and software diversity on the accuracy of RT data. We found that the high diversity of browsers, operating systems, and CPU performance may have a detrimental effect, though it can partly be compensated for by increased sample sizes and trial numbers. In sum, the findings show that Web-based experiments are an acceptable source of RT data, comparable to a common keyboard-based setup in the laboratory.